A Bloody Tale

Magical N-Bs and a nonbinary vampire escape a supernatural church.

Content notes: offering blood to heal a vampire. Christianity-fueled bigotry. Hallucinations. Mentioned medical trauma. Food scarcity.

Also available to read on AO3.

See the end of the work for more, slightly spoilery notes.

a helmet with a cross-shaped cut out. it's on fire. a glowing ball with a bridal veil. and a bunch of glowing skulls. dark red background.
a darkskin black person with long, dark red longs. red trench coat cinched by a purple belt
an icy-skinned person with a green eye and dark blue hair. wearing a purple hoodie.
a black cat with red eyes and dark gray nose. they also have a dark gray, partial mane

A warlock had set up camp with faer familiar on the side of the road. The road itself was deeper than the fields flanking it, for drainage. It had rained all the previous day. And of course, by the time the two of them managed to set up something of a shelter, the rain had stopped, throwing the warlock into misery. The familiar, not a physical entity but a magical one, was unbothered by the weather. They snuggled their warlock.

“Thanks,” Shiver said, holding faer familiar close.

“Of course!” Shadow of Chaos purred lovingly, rubbing Shiver’s chin with their currently furry, feline forehead. Their housecat shape was always best for comforting Shiver, they’d found. Shadow believed it was due in part to it being their first physical manifestation in this world. Shiver also just really liked cats.

The land was still soggy and muddy the next day, and breakfast was a pitiably small pair of eggs and a handful of blueberries. Not nearly enough for someone wielding such power. Still, it’d been raining too hard to forage the previous night, and their reserves were ever dwindling, so eggs and blueberries it was.

Fatigue and chill teamed up against Shiver. Fae had been about to go back into their tent when an eclipse commenced.

“That’s strange,” Shadow said. “There’s not supposed to be an eclipse today.”

“No?” Shiver asked.

Shadow shook their head.

“We know how tired you are. We’ll keep watch,” Shadow said.

Shiver, too tired to pretend to have any energy, responded very quickly to their suggestion.

Shadow, not having physical eyes, could look directly upon the eclipse. They noticed that the moon seemed to be trying to shift in front of the sun, yet it appeared as if the sun was pushing it back.

Shadow hummed, head on their hand, watching the eclipse slowly yet steadily progress. Then they spotted the five moons of Redania fading into the horizon.  Redania’s twin cyan suns were also just starting to wake up.

Shadow looked back at the eclipse. If none of Redania’s moons or suns were involved in this eclipse, then what was???

Finally, the moon stood in front of the sun. Ink began to seep from it. The dawn became stained with a dark, purplish black.

Shiver emerged from the tent, seemingly woken up urgently. Fae’s gaze darted back and forth. Fae was scanning the area.

Shadow’s brow rose. They approached Shiver carefully and accessed their sensory data share.

Shadow’s eyes flared wide open. Fae had been hearing the rasps of someone whose every breath brought pain.

Shadow held Shiver as they recalibrated their magical senses.

There was intense magic about!

Some of the ink began to dip down into their campsite. It soon swelled into a disc.

Shiver looked at Shadow, eyes and fists crystallizing with ice. Fae was expecting a battle to meet them.

Shadow approached the portal cautiously. Shiver stayed put. Fae was already unnerved from the breathing, and now this thing had appeared.

Shadow materialized their wings and horns, just to be on the safe side, although they kept their claws sheathed for now. Their fangs were already in place.

The portal dripped and leaked a thick, viscous fluid. It was devoid of smell, and made no sound as it fell to the earth.

Shadow cupped their hands to gather the fluid for a closer examination.

The portal swallowed up Shadow. Shiver tried to recall them, but something about this portal must’ve interfered with such things. Shiver panicked and followed after them.

“{Shadow!}” Shiver called out to them, mind blaring with panic.

Fae found them surrounded by skeletons. Bony warriors scuttling forth with moldy, leather-bound books.

Shadow roared, setting their attackers ablaze with heat magic.

The skeletons kept moving towards them, the flames becoming cold and blue.

Shadow’s eyes widened.

Shiver was running towards them as fast as faer could.

Fae sent forth a hailstorm. Dagger-like ice scattered the bones and books.

“Are you okay!?” Shiver asked, holding Shadow, anxious to have them close, to know they were there.

“I am,” Shadow said, trying to use the more emotional aspects of their link to calm faer. It would’ve been much more effective if the bones weren’t rattling.

Shiver heard them immediately. Fae turned around. As soon as fae saw them, fae hauled ass and Shadow in the first direction where skeletons were not.

They found a church. The walls had once been white, but they had long since decayed into ash. A cross; plain and scorched; sat above the door. The sign out front had missing letters, but Shiver filled them in on faer own.

Sinners are going to hell!

The sign was also scratched. And bloody. Deep, desperate clawing.

With more skeletons on the horizon, and no other shelter to be found, Shadow ferried Shiver into the church.

Once inside, they began to hear a piano. Shadow kept them both hidden in the shadows. They padded along the walls, moving slowly. Shiver’s fear skyrocketed.

There was no one there. The piano was playing itself. The pews’ upholstery was ratty, the ones that still had upholstery. Most of them didn’t any longer. Some of the pews had even collapsed in on themselves.

Skeletons began to file in. As more and more of them arrived, a light began to shine at where a pianist would’ve been sitting. Tendrils poured out from the top of the light. White fabric flowed and rippled along the floor, evoking a bridal train. It slithered out, becoming more and more excessive by the second.

“{Is this a wedding service?}” Shadow asked through their telepathy.

“{I don’t care what it is, I want out!}” Shiver took the quietest deep breaths fae could, terrified at the prospect of someone hearing faer.

“{What about whoever scratched the sign?}” Shadow asked. “{What if they’re still alive?}”

Shiver remained pointedly silent.

“{We know it’s difficult to be here. Somewhere just like this harmed you continuously and immensely for years. We were there for most of it! But there could be someone just you like trapped here. Let’s save them, if we can. Actually save them,}” at this, Shadow nodded towards the congregation, “{not their idea of saving someone.}”

Shiver looked at Shadow, then grabbed their hand.

Shadow and Shiver crawled along the walls in their dark disguises.

All throughout, the music continued to swell, spurred on by its supernatural musician. It reminded Shiver of the last song the sound team would play before faer ex-pastor took the stage.

The skeletons began to sit in the pews, even the collapsed ones. Those congregants sat right on the floor.

It was a large auditorium. Shiver thought it would never end. Fae focused on the sensation of putting one foot in front of the other. Anything to try to block out the trauma this place was digging back up.

Shadow squeezed Shiver’s hand three times. It felt like the darkness of a black hole cloaking faer. All that density, all that power, at faer side. That’s what gave faer the confidence to do this. The hope fae would leave here alive.

The pair eventually made their way to a door to the side of the stage. Shadow was just about to make them physical again to open it when a white man walked through. Shiver clamped faer mouth shut to not yelp at being so surprised.  Faer other hand held Shadow tighter.

The man’s collared shirt and work pants were fraying.  His leather belt and shoes were moldy. His body was a rag of skin over broad bones. The state of his decay greatly unnerved Shiver. Even Shadow found themself affected, and not just due to feedback from Shiver.

But when the man took the stage, a light identical to the pianist began to glow from within him. Flesh filled him out, his clothes cleaned up and stitched back up, and the leather glared as if it’d been freshly shined.

The skeletons remained the same. The pianist remained the same. The church remained the same.

“{Do you suppose it’s illusory or restorative?}” Shadow asked, doing their best to distract Shiver from the proceedings.

“{It’s I-don’t-give-a-fuck-ative,}” Shiver proceeded through the door.

Shadow spared one last look at the pastor before following faer in.

It too dark to see. Anything could’ve been in there with them. More congregants, more preachers who wouldn’t die. Shiver cast off a hand-sized star made of light magic.

Thankfully, all they found were some metal folding chairs and tables. They were in a small room with a whiteboard, an eraser, and some markers. Some frayed and curled up posters sat on the wall. Mostly bible verses reminding readers of how sinful they were. How torturous hell was.

One was dedicated to the many foibles and flaws of various biblical figures, and how god used them in spite of it. It was just like the one in Shiver’s youth group.

Shiver moved to stand in front of it.

Shadow reached out to faer, but faer shrugged them off.

“…God’s never using me again.”

And then Shiver tore that fucker in half.

Fae moved on to the next area. A cold hallway with a furnace that added no heat. It was even darker than the room.

Shiver stopped.

Shadow sensed faer spike of terror immediately.

“{Is that real?}” Shiver asked, pointing forward.

Shadow saw nothing, but when they checked in through their sensory link…

An android with glowing eyes, shrouded in shadows, stood at the end of the hall.

“No, that’s not real,” Shadow said.

Shiver was relieved, but faer heightened fear lingered. Shadow hoped they’d find the church’s prisoner soon.

Each room they passed was devoid of life, containing only furniture and books in various states of ruin.

There were stairs at the end of the hall.

Shiver dipped faer toes on one and it collapsed beneath even that feathery pressure.

Shadow transformed, latching themself onto Shiver as a set of wings. The pair flew down instead.

Below, the church was even more rotten. The walls, seemingly once white, were now a ghoulish green with only grains of their former color remaining. It wasn’t even a green that was nice to look at. Grayish bile.

Columns, missing whole chunks of themselves, sat crumbling in disrepair. The ceiling dripped and drooled.

The pastor’s voice blazed above them. The usual cherry-picking of biblical quotes. Something about a demon?

“{I wish I could wear some earplugs,}” Shiver lamented. Fae knew it wasn’t safe to, not here.

The next room was large. Not as large as the auditorium, but enough for about 40 people to gather.

There was only one in there besides Shiver and Shadow, and dey didn’t look like dey wanted to be there either.

A black person with long locs that were battered as much as the rest of deir body. Dey heaved, every breath sounding like it brought dem pain… The exact breathing Shiver had heard earlier in the day!

Shiver and Shadow rushed over immediately.

Now close, they both saw deir fangs.

Shiver offered faer wrist while Shadow worked to unlock the binds. Dey looked at them, understandably wary.

“You ever,” dey heaved, “feed a vampire before, kid?”

Shiver shook faer head.

“Course you haven’t. Fuck!” dey said. “Gonna… gonna do my best… to do right by you. Just, just have your friend ready.”

“I always am!” Shadow said with the determination of a very experienced guardian, which they were.

When dey fangs sunk in, Shiver started breathing through faer mouth. Fae wasn’t scared of the vampire. The experience just reminded faer too much of needles. It was like a doctor drawing blood, but even worse, and Shiver had already thought that was even worse than a shot.

Shiver now knew another reason why medical professionals didn’t inject two shots at the same time.

Despite deir warnings, Shadow didn’t have to intervene. Dey stopped at what seemed to be an appropriate time, especially considering dey must not’ve fed recently. Shadow doubted dey’d been restored to deir full strength.

“You okay?”

“Fae’s not, but not because of you,” Shadow was quick to clarify. They got ahold of Shiver. “Fae’s religious trauma and now faer medical trauma are piling up.”

“Damn,” dey nodded in understanding. Now strengthened, at least partially, dey stood over them, taller than even the pastor. Deir locs reached down to the purple leather belt cinching the waist of deir bright red trench coat. “Razorthorn, dey/dem.”

“Shadow of Chaos, they/them! And this is Shiver, fae/faer.”

“Pleasure to meet you both… That’s an agender pin,” Razorthorn pointed happily at Shadow’s accessory. “Alright!”

They bumped fists.

“We have a spare, if you like,” Shadow was about to reach into Shiver’s messenger bag to grab it when Razorthorn empathically shook deir head.

“Nothing’s stabbing my baby,” dey said, grinning proudly as dey tugged the lapels of deir coat. “But thanks.”

“Hi,” Shiver said, lacking any idea what one said to a vampire they just fed.

“Hi,” Razorthorn gave faer a smile and a cute lil wave. “Let’s get the fuck outta here.”

Shiver knew exactly what to say to that. “Thank god!”

They heard shambling. And more of the stairs collapsing.

“Welp,” Razorthorn grabbed a table.

“…Are we going to block the door?” Shadow asked, moving to help.

“This is the only door, kid,” Razorthorn reminded them all, including demself. “If we block it, we lock ourselves in.”

“Wonderful,” Shadow said.

“Shiver, stay behind us, you just gave a whole lotta blood,” Razorthorn said.

“Okay,” Shiver nodded, then transferred all but faer heat magic to Shadow, thinking it was useless against the congregants anyway. Shiver still wasn’t doing great. It was way too soon to be moving. Fae leaned against a column until fae felt it warping.

Razorthorn threw the table as soon as five congregants emerged from the stairs.

Then dey took a whole, filled filing cabinet and threw that too.

“Got any heat magic?” Razorthorn said, breaking a column out of the floor.

“We do, but it doesn’t work on them!” Shadow fired off a thunderbolt that chained through multiple congregants. The bones and bibles scattered, but they began rattling again. The rest of the congregants were marching faster, too.

Razorthorn threw another table and said, “You gotta burn the bibles, that’s what’s keeping them alive.”

“Oh. wow,” Shadow said. “Shiver, did you hear that?”

“{Transferring now,}” Shiver said, focusing on moving the element over ASAP.

Razorthorn shouted desperately―understandably so―as dey threw more shit. Shadow chained more lightning, zapping once broken congregants as they rose up again.

As soon as the heat magic transferred over, Shadow targeted the bibles specifically. The bones of the corresponding congregant evaporated instantly.

“There you go! They’re getting low!” Razorthorn said. “I know there’s only fifty of them!”

“‘Only’!?” Shadow laughed. “What about fifty is ‘only’!?!”

“There used to be two-hundred!” Razorthorn said proudly, as well dey should. Dey added on with a grumble, “Then they broke the furnace.”

When the last congregate incinerated, they all collapsed; even Shiver, who was already on the floor.

“We still got the pastor and his wife,” Razorthorn groaned.

“Fantastic,” Shadow groaned even longer.

“I can take the pastor, just keep his wife off me.”

“Any advice for her?”

“Keep her off me, that’s my advice.”

“Well, thank you, we think that’s very good advice.”

Shiver double-checked that Razorthorn was jacked into their telepathic communications before reminding them, “{She’s made of light magic.}”

“Don’t use that then,” Razorthorn said. Dey then stood up and held out deir hand. “Ready to go?”

Shadow looked at Shiver, who nodded. Shadow then said, “Ready!”

“You know, you should switch over to a different element, so you can use more shade magic,” Razorthorn said.

“We know,” Shadow sighed, “but it feels wrong. For us, it’s like a texture sensitivity.”

“Really?” Razorthorn stoked deir beard.

“I can fight without you,” Shiver said, although to faer, it was very awkwardly phrased. It wasn’t that Shadow wouldn’t be with faer, they just wouldn’t be with faer physically.

One look at Shadow told Shiver that wasn’t happening. There was only thing Shadow hated more than forming themself with something other than shade magic.

“We’re not leaving you alone,” Shadow said with heroic assertiveness. “You’re worth enduring elemental sensitivities.”

“You two are too cute,” Razorthorn scoffed affectionately. “Come on, let’s go.”

Razorthorn didn’t wait for Shadow to fly them all up. Dey reached out to what used to be the top of the stairs and pulled demself up with the grace and strength of a practiced athlete.

Shadow waited for Shiver’s feet to be firmly on the ground before unlatching. Then they reformed themself into a lion. The darkness they’d been using grayed into white. Soon, their entire form was made of light magic. They couldn’t quite affect the majesty of a real lion, not stuck in this element, but they could move. More importantly, they could fight.

The trio passed through the room with all the posters again. The poster Shiver had torn apart was missing.

The auditorium was empty of congregants. Shiver couldn’t decide if it was creepier with or without them.

The pastor was still sermonizing as if he had a full audience. His wife was nodding along, listening dutifully. She was still sitting at the piano. Shadow and Shiver thought it was strange that she didn’t have her own bible.

Razorthorn rushed into the pastor, hacking at him with chipped claws. The pastor’s wife moved to defend him until Shadow and Shiver intervened.

Shadow roared, sending sky magic her way as an opening. Streams of wind flew debris at her. Shiver used the wind to boost a flurry of icicle arrows from a frozen bow.

Heat magic swirled around the pastor. He became armored with fire. Breastplate, shield, sabatons, tunic, and a helmet. His bible even turned into a blazing, whip-like sword.

“Play with fire, you’re gonna get burned,” Razorthorn said, smashing the pulpit against him.

“The only one in danger of hellfire here is you, foul devil!” the pastor said, raising his weapon against dem.

Razorthorn moved quickly, sliding out of the way just in time. The pastor was slow, but hit like the beast he thought Razorthorn was. The welts from their last fight still stung Razorthorn’s back.

Welts Razorthorn was determined to return tenfold.

Shadow glanced over at Razorthorn before refocusing on the pastor’s wife. She’d started singing. Confused, Shadow and Shiver kept attacking, taking advantage of the opportunity. How open she’d left herself.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.

He hath loosed the faithful lightning of his terrible swift sword.

His truth is marching on!

A storm brewed over Shadow and Shiver. Too late, they both realized she’d been casting a spell.

Lightning swords rained down upon them. Shiver quickly formed a shield out of earth magic, hoping it would block at least a few of them. But even just two swords managed to crack it. By three, it shattered into pebbles. Between the blood loss earlier and faer less than ideal meal from before all this and now these lightning swords, faer movements became even more sluggish. Faer head drowned in pressure.

Shadow was faring better, but the battle with the congregants earlier left them wanting more energy. Still, Shadow rushed over to Shiver. They slung faer over their back and dropped faer off quickly behind one of the sturdier pews. They started casting a healing spell.

They both filled with dread when she started singing again.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel.

Shiver started creating an icy wall. Shadow kept watching her. Thankfully, she seemed focused on the two of them rather than Razorthorn.

As ye deal with my condemners so with you my grace shall deal.

Let the hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel.

His truth is marching on!

Snake-like flames gathered forth from the floor. Their tongues licked the wall. It started to melt.

Shadow curled protectively around Shiver, roaring again, swiping at one that dared to rise over the wall. Water started oozing towards Shadow and Shiver.

As soon as the snakes burned themselves out, Shadow leapt over what was left of the wall and charged at her. Shade magic charged in their jaw. They fired off a laser of darkness.

The pastor’s wife’s screech warbled throughout the auditorium. Debris fell from the ceiling. Even more of the pews crumbled.

Water. Razorthorn needed water. And a hose.

Razorthorn hopped into the tub behind the pulpit, the tub meant for baptisms. Dey dodged that sword-whip mostly successfully. Razorthorn hissed. It still managed to lick deir ankle.

Eyes watery from pain, dey rushed and rooted through the closet. Dey found more chairs, some moth-eaten coats, a toolbox. Useless.

What felt like too long later, dey found a hose. Razorthorn ran back to the tub. The pastor had joined his wife in battering Shadow and Shiver.

Razorthorn jammed the hose into the spout. Dey turned the faucet fast enough to break it off.

The water came out weak. It fell too close to reach the pastor. Razorthorn tried turning the faucet more by hand, but it wouldn’t budge. Too tight.

Dey remembered the toolbox. Dey ran back and grabbed the whole thing. Sure enough, there was a wrench in there. Dey tightened it around the faucet and turned it as far as it would go.

Dey blasted the shit out of the pastor’s armor and sword.

He was now focused on Razorthorn again.

Razorthorn smashed a whole fucking pew against the pastor. Just kept smashing it against him as it broke off into smaller and smaller chunks. Until just a nub of a bench was left.

Dey chucked it at the pastor’s wife.

Then dey began their onslaught against the pastor in earnest.

For the first time in his life, the pastor felt real pain. Razorthorn ripped into the pastor’s decaying skin like the paper-thin disguise it was. Razorthorn dared to feel hopeful. Hopeful that deir captor would finally die tonight!

Shadow imbued their claws with shade magic and hacked into the pastor’s wife. All their time spent formed with shade magic, they were very good at fighting with it. The pastor’s wife died with another warbling screech.

The pastor never even noticed.

Razorthorn ripped out what was left of his heart. A vile, mold-ridden cross. Dey crushed it in one bloodied hand.

The pastor became dust.

Razorthorn heaved. With labored steps, dey shambled off the pulpit.

“Y’all gonna be okay?” dey asked, reaching out to Shiver once more.

No sooner had Shiver nodded than the church began to crumble. The bell tolled furiously as it fell in front of them, resounding nauseatingly when it landed. As fast as they could, they bolted out of there, dodging debris and narrowly avoiding being crushed to death.

Once they were out the door, they found themselves at Shadow and Shiver’s campsite.

“Nice place you got here,” Razorthorn said. “Why don’t we rest up here and head on to mine in the morning?”

“Sure!” Shadow said, a much smaller, shade magic housecat now.

“Great!” Razorthorn said. “And thank you. Thank you both.”

“Of course! You’re very welcome,” Shadow said. “Where do you live, if we may ask?”

“Autumnville!” dey said.

“Autumnville???” Shiver’s eyes went wide.

“That’s right!” Razorthorn grinned proudly. “Home of the Autumnal Royal Family!”

“Yeah, them…” Shiver tried to act natural.

As much as Razorthorn wanted to keep hyping up deir homecity, dey were finally safe after god knew how long. That was a special type of exhaustion.

They all fell into a pile together in the tent.

Shiver tried to fall asleep, but the suns had yet to fall sleep, and the birds were chirping. Quacks, beeps, buzzes, and whistles. Faer eyelids were heavy though at least. Even their mind was finally bedding down for the night.

Faer eyes bolted open when the birds coalesced into an all too familiar tune. In the distance, something that sounded like an old woman began to sing.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea.

With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me.

As he died to make men holy let us die to make men free!

His truth is marching on.

Spooked, Shiver lay there in silence. Fae eventually decided this hallucination, if it was one, was harmless.

End Notes.

(spoilers): the pastor’s armor is referencing a passage in the new testament that details the armor of god. It’s basically about fighting sin and stuff.

The song quoted is The Battle Hymn of the Republic, written by Julia Ward Howe. an abolitionist. during the Civil War. I used it cuz I was already thinking about what fantastic imagery lightning swords would be. But when I learned more about the lyrics and its creation, I remembered in the various churches that I was dragged to growing up, it was very common for the music team to pick and choose which verses to sing. I just figured it’d be interesting to show how, for the church our heroes find themselves in, the congregants focus on the verses about damnation and vengeance. They don’t sing the part about freeing Black slaves. Christians pick and choose what song verses they sing in addition to what scripture they preach. Not everything in the bible should be abided by, that’s just a fact. but it’s interesting to me that christians will abide by the ones that “compel” them to be bigoted.

(spoilers end here.)

However, I want to remind everyone that not all religions hold equal power. Americans have religious freedom… as long as we don’t ask Christians to accommodate us.

Yes, in certain places around the world, other religions reign supreme, but worldwide, Christianity is privileged. America is very Christian culturally (example: Sunday = one of our weekends). The idea that culture and religion are separate is Christian hegemony in action; and thus, to condone antitheism is to advocate for genocide.

Antitheism is unacceptable just like any other bigotry, and comments advocating for it will be deleted.

I live in a Christian supremacist household, and I have a lot of trauma surrounding that, but I acknowledge that other religions do not have the same power as Christianity. And there are inclusive Christian congregations. Hell, I follow a trans pastor! That’s why it’s important to specify that Christian supremacy is the problem, not religion itself.

An Indigenous person practicing their culture’s religion, for instance, is not doing the same thing as a Christian who is harassing non-Christians and colonizing marginalized religions. That Indigenous person is reclaiming a culture that, like Indigenous people themselves, my ancestors did everything they could to subjugate and slaughter.

Always punch up; not down or sideways. Punching up is justice, punching down is bullying, and punching sideways is “I’ve got mine, fuck you!”

And finally, I would like to remind white, abled, neurotypical, upper/middle-class queer people that queer people are not the only victims of Christian supremacy.

Thanks for taking time to read this. enjoy what you do here and everywhere!

If you like this, consider following me on twitter and twitch! I also have the creation of this story available to watch on youtube! you can also read and comment on prior versions on google drive.


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